St Vincent’s Infectious disease specialist Dr. Jerrol Thompson said witnessing Covid-19 deaths firsthand may motivate some people to get vaccinated.
As of Tuesday, July 27, some 25 603 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the Caribbean nation.
“I would not like to see St Vincent go the way of the BVI where many who are an unvaccinated rush for the jab when or if there is a surge in cases, we say when your neighbor’s house is on fire, wet yours.”
“There are so many reasons for hesitancy, so many groups being paid to promote many anti-vax campaigns; there are people who would like to see this pandemic prolong.”
“Sadly, you may have to start seeing deaths like in the BVI for people to starting demanding the vaccine. I hope we don’t get to that point”, Thompson said.
Thompson said a new promotion campaign by the Ministry of Health would be rolled out to fight against vaccine hesitancy in the multi-island state.
“Doctors and other influencers would be used to convince the population that the vaccine is a necessary way out of the pandemic.”
A July 25 report showed that 25,603 persons had been vaccinated, 15,711 have received their first dose, while 9,982 have received their second dose.
There have been 2,280 cases and 12 deaths on the island since the start of the pandemic.
Consider some recent statistics from the UK. In a study tracking more than 200,000 people, nearly every single participant had developed antibodies against the virus within two weeks of their second dose.
And despite initial worries that the current vaccines may be less effective against the Delta variant, analyses suggest that both the AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs reduce hospitalisation rates by 92-96%. As many health practitioners have repeated, the risks of severe side effects from a vaccine are tiny in comparison to the risk of the disease itself.
Yet a sizeable number of people are still reluctant to get the shots. According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund, that ranges from around 10-20% of people in the UK to around 50% in Japan and 60% in France.
The result is becoming something of a culture war on social media, with many online commentators claiming that the vaccine hesitant are simply ignorant or selfish. But psychologists who specialise in medical decision-making argue these choices are often the result of many complicating factors that need to be addressed sensitively, if we are to have any hope of reaching population-level immunity.